11 Great Morgan Freeman Moments

Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 1:37 am
By Shane Rivers

Morgan Freeman is the man. According to Wikipedia, he’s known for his “reserved demeanor and authoritative speaking voice.” He’s also known for those weird dots on his face, teaching kids to read on The Electric Company, and hanging out with Clint Eastwood and comparing liver spots. If I live to be 100, I can only hope to be half as badass as Morgan Porterfield Freeman, Jr.

With the debut of Invictus, I decided it was high time I devoted an article to great Morgan Freeman moments. There are so many to choose from, especially considering that Freeman has played everything from an assassin to a deranged alien hunter. He’s even portrayed his fair share of those “magical” characters that get Spike Lee so riled up.

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So let’s take a look…


Movie: Lean on Me (1989)
Role: Principal “Crazy Joe” Clark
Moment: After expelling hundreds of drug users and dealers from his school, Clark is approached by chubby Thomas Sams, a kid kicked out of Eastside High for doing crack. Sams begs for a second chance, and this leads to a rooftop confrontation in which Clark suggests he take the quick way out and jump. A blubbering Sams refuses as Clark lectures him on the evils of crack. “It kills your brain cells, son! It kills your brain cells!” Needless to say, the kid shapes up. Who could resist a motivational speech and suicidal dare from Morgan Freeman?

Movie: Street Smart (1987)
Role: Fast Black
Moment: Sinister pimp Fast Black gives journalist Jonathan Fisher (Christopher Reeve) a tour of his neighborhood. He stops at the local basketball courts and makes an unopposed layup to the cheers of onlookers. But when he starts playing for real, Fast Black quickly has his weak hook shot blocked. Enraged, he shoves the offending player to the ground and then pins him against a wall, talking the kind of crazy talk you’d expect from a pimp. Suddenly remembering that he’s being observed by Fisher, Black calms down and offers some cash to the terrified baller, suggesting he go buy himself a chicken dinner. The moral of this scene: Never block Morgan Freeman’s shot.

Movie: Glory (1989)
Role: Sgt. Maj. John Rawlins
Moment: When the resentful Private Silas Trip (Denzel Washington) goads the educated Corporal Thomas Searles (Andre Braugher) into a fight, former gravedigger Sgt. Maj. John Rawlins tries to break things up. Not pleased with this development, Trip replies, “Nigger, you better get your hands off me.” Rawlins persists, and Trip crosses the line by exclaiming, “Nigger, you ain’t nothin’ but the white man’s dog.” That tears it, and Rawlins slaps Trip into a stunned state of silence. As Denzel does his best dumbfounded look, Freeman then proceeds to deliver a classy speech about self-sacrifice and self-respect.


Movie: Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
Role: Hoke Colburn
Moment: While many Morgan Freeman moments are filled with drama, some also tickle the ‘ol funny bone. Case in point, this early scene from Driving Miss Daisy. Assigned a driver she doesn’t want, hardheaded 72-year-old Daisy Werthan (Jessica Tandy) insists on walking to the Piggly Wiggly herself. Hoke Colburn follows along in her car, pleading with her to get inside. Finally embarrassed by all her nosy neighbors looking on, Daisy breaks down and gets inside. She then proceeds to become the world’s worst back-seat driver, going so far as to complain about Hoke driving too fast (he’s going 19 in a 35 mph zone). All he can do is mutter “Yes’um,” as the crazy old Jewish lady complains and complains and complains. After getting her inside the damned Piggly Wiggly, he calls her son, Boolie (Dan Aykroyd), to tell him the good news about Miss Daisy finally riding in the car. A proud and slightly amused Hoke says, “Only took me six days. Same time it took the Lord to make the world.”

Movie: The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Role: Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding
Moment: When Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) approaches Red about getting some outside contraband, the veteran con is watching Gilda with his fellow inmates. Before Andy can get started, Red shushes him prior to Rita Hayworth appearing on the screen. “This is the part I really like, when she does that shit with her hair.” Sure enough, she does that shit with her hair, and any red-blooded male will immediately identify with Red’s reaction.

Movie: Street Smart (1987)
Role: Fast Black
Moment: The second Street Smart entry on the list, this scene takes place between pimp Fast Black and one of his working girls, the horribly-named Punchy (Kathy Baker). This doomed prostitute asks for some time off and then raises her voice, which results in a predictable pimp slap. Not one to take a hint, Punchy pushes her man, and then all hell breaks loose. Leaning in real close, Fast Black tells her he wants a piece of her, but not the kind of piece she’s thinking of. That’s when he grabs a pair of scissors and confides that he’s going to take an eye. He asks her to pick which one, moving the scissors menacingly from one side of her face to the other. Screaming and crying, a dazed Punchy is finally allowed to leave the room with her eyesight intact. But like an idiot, she goes and rats out Fast Black to the authorities, only to find him waiting for her. So long, Punchy.


Movie: Se7en (1995)
Role: Detective Lt. William Somerset
Moment: One of the most famous Morgan Freeman moments occurs near the end of Se7en, when Detective Somerset comes into possession of a mysterious box delivered by courier. Nearby, fellow cop Mills (Brad Pitt) stands guard over methodical serial killer John Doe (Kevin Spacey). Hesitating for a moment, Somerset finally opens the box and recoils in horror at what he sees inside. Rushing back towards his partner, he realizes the killer has been manipulating them every step of the way. As he tells the police circling in a helicopter, “John Doe has the upper hand!”

Movie: Deep Impact (1998)
Role: President Tom Beck
Moment: After the spaceship Messiah fails to destroy a seven-mile-wide comet heading towards Earth (splitting it into two, instead), President Tom Beck takes to the airwaves and announces the imminent collision. He also reveals a lottery that will allow 800,000 Americans to take refuge in a series of underground caves. The soothing baritone voice of Beck never wavers and never betrays a hint of fear. If the Earth really was going to get wiped out by a giant comet, wouldn’t you want Morgan Freeman to deliver the news?

Movie: Bruce Almighty (2003)
Role: God
Moment: Tired of all the complaining from whiny Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey), God decides to teach him a little lesson. Their first meeting takes place in an abandoned office building, with the Supreme Being starting off by masquerading as a maintenance man. But he soon sheds the disguise and reveals his true identity, clad in a white suit that would make Mr. Roarke green with envy. Bruce needs proof, of course, so he puts his hands behind his back and challenges God to guess how many fingers he’s holding up. When God says “seven,” Bruce reveals (much to his surprise) seven fingers…all on one hand.

Movie: Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Role: Eddie “Scrap Iron” Dupris
Moment: Following the paralysis of fighter Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank), trainer and father figure Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) sits brooding in his darkened gymnasium. Enter longtime friend Eddie “Scrap Iron” Dupris to offer some sage advice. “People die every day, Frankie – mopping floors, washing dishes. And you know what their last thought it? ‘I never got my shot.’ Because of you, Maggie got her shot.”


Movie: Dreamcatcher (2003)
Role: Col. Abraham Curtis
Moment: With his flat-top and crazy eyebrows, Col. Abraham Curtis is part of a secret military organization dedicated to stopping alien incursions. Unfortunately, a few decades of monster hunting have driven Curtis over the deep end, a fact that becomes evident when he raises his .45 pistol (given to him by John Wayne) and blows off several fingers of a fellow soldier. There’s also a surreal showdown between Col. Curtis and his protégé, Capt. Owen Underhill (Tom Sizemore), which features Morgan Freeman flying around in an attack helicopter and getting constantly upstaged by his snow-white eyebrows.

That’s 11 great Morgan Freeman moments, all for less than a cup of coffee. Where else can you get a deal like that? And while I’ve got your attention, here are a few more feature articles from Only Good Movies to check out: